Jill Brzezinski-Conleys is just 35 years old, but she’s already been struggling with breast cancer for three years, which was recently spread through her body and became a terminal illness. Like any breast cancer story, hers is tragic and heart-wrenching, but what makes hers unique is that she’s been determined to inspire other men and women dealing with illness by sharing it with the world. The end result is a beautiful breast cancer photo shoot that she hopes will land in a major fashion magazine–but is already spreading all over the internet, thanks to her compelling story and beautiful photos.
Brzezinski-Conleys was diagnosed with breast cancer the day before her 32nd birthday, and went through chemotherapy and a double mastectomy just six months after getting married. Now, at 35, she was diagnosed with stage 4 incurable bone cancer seven months ago, and decided that her mission would be to share her story to help other women and men going through a similar struggle.
She started with a mission to get her photographs in a fashion magazine for Breast Cancer Awareness Month: “Magazines always talk about breast cancer, but they never show it,” she told the New York Daily News. Her friend, Seattle wedding photographer Nikki Closser, took glamour photos of Jill, and sent them to Australian portrait photographer Sue Bryce, asking her to either shoot her friend, or critique her images so that she’d have a greater chance of getting into a magazine. Bryce immediately responded to her email, and after much back and forth, the two flew Jill from her home in Louisville, Kentucky to Paris for a five-day photo shoot.
Part of her mission is to show other women and men that it’s still possible to feel and be beautiful, even when your body has been transformed by cancer. So she didn’t wear a prosthetic for the shoot (one of her breast implants became infected due to radiation, so it had to be removed).
The short film below explains her story, and is incredibly inspiring and beautiful–everything she wanted other people to get from her story. Watch and pass along: